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Opinion: Lou Burnett – Following The Money

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The money (U.S. Senate) race

The race for the open Louisiana U.S. Senate seat will be an expensive one. Incumbent U.S. Sen. David Vitter decided not to seek a third term.
There will be a long list of candidates from both parties on the ballot this November, but presently the attention is centered around six, who are considered major candidates.
And they are raising money and campaigning.  So who’s got the most money so far?  The campaign  finance reports are in for activity from January 1, 2016 through March 31.  Here are those reports, listed by the amount each candidate has on hand:

U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R)
Beginning Cash on Hand – $0.
Net Contributions – $326,865.
Net Operating Expenditures –
$362,014.
Ending Cash on Hand –
2,295,549.
Note: Fleming’s Ending Cash
on Hand reflects campaign
funds he already has in his
account.  His campaign has
debts totaling $673,735.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany
(R) Beginning Cash on Hand
$366,517.
Net Contributions
$3,218,017.
Net Operating Expenses –
$1,674,448.
Ending Cash on Hand –
$1,910,523.
Note: The same applies to
Boustany.  He already had sig-
nificant funds in his campaign
account.
State Treasurer John Kennedy
(R)
Beginning Cash on Hand – $0.
Net Contributions –
$817,584.
Net Operating Expenditures
$119,327.
Ending Cash on Hand –
$698,257.
Note: Kennedy has $2.85 million in a state campaign account, but money raised for state campaigns cannot be used in federal races.  He wants to donate the funds to the Make Louisiana Proud Super PAC, which  is supporting his candidacy.  However, that move is mired in controversy with some opponents and legal experts saying it would be illegal for him to do so.
Attorney Caroline Fayard (D)
Beginning Cash on Hand – $0.
Net Contributions – $193,806.
Loan to Her Committee –
$150,000.
Net Operating Expenditures –
$93,007.
Ending Cash on Hand –
$250,798.
PSC Foster Campbell (D)
Beginning Cash on Hand – $0.
Net Contributions – $0.
Loan to His Committee –
$250,000.
Net Operating Expenditures –
$0.
Ending Cash on Hand –
$250,000.
Retired AF Colonel Rob
Maness (R)
Beginning Cash on Hand –
$21,173.
Net Contributions – $259,543.
Net Operating Expenses –
$116,399.
Ending Cash on Hand –
$213,422.
The campaign has debts totaling $67,059.

These first quarter reports are just the tip of the iceberg which will be floating down the expensive river of the U.S. Senate race if the 2014 Senate race is any indication of how much the political plum costs.

In 2014, incumbent Democratic candidate Mary Landrieu spent nearly $20 million in a losing cause.  Winning the seat cost then-U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R)  nearly $15 million.  Rob Maness, who was in that race, spent nearly $3.5 million.
Apparently, the two major Democratic candidates believe they have a good shot at winning.

To prove it, Fayard and Campbell have both reached into their own pockets to get their campaigns off the ground.

As noted above, Campbell has put $250,000 of his own money into his campaign fund, and Fayard has contributed $150,000 of her own money to the race.
To be sure, it will be an interesting race.

Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.